Cruel and Unusual - The End Of The Eighth Amendment
November 8, 2004 9:42 PM Subscribe
Cruel and Unusual - The End Of The Eighth AmendmentIt might seem at first that the rules for the treatment of Iraqi prisoners were founded on standards of political legitimacy suited to war or emergencies; based on what Carl Schmitt called the urgency of the ''exception,'' they were meant to remain secret as necessary ''war measures'' and to be exempt from traditional legal ideals and the courts associated with them. But the ominous discretionary powers used to justify this conduct are entirely familiar to those who follow the everyday treatment of prisoners in the United States—not only their treatment by prison guards but their treatment by the courts in sentencing, corrections, and prisoners' rights. The torture memoranda, as unprecedented as they appear in presenting ''legal doctrines . . . that could render specific conduct, otherwise criminal, not unlawful,'' refer to U.S. prison cases in the last 30 years that have turned on the legal meaning of the Eighth Amendment’s language prohibiting ''cruel and unusual punishment.'' What is the history of this phrase? How has it been interpreted? And how has its content been so eviscerated?
posted by y2karl (25 comments total)
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